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InsightJun 02, 2020

From grad to gig: Earning money and respect

Written by Julian Brown RGD, ON THE CHASE! Motion Design, and Dzung Tran RGD
Image of grads tossing their hats

As you start your career in the industry, you might start to feel more confident and begin taking on freelance work.

So in this series' instalment, we're discussing two key things for succeeding when you're freelancing: gaining respect and making money.

Cultivate your connections because they might lead to job opportunities.

I prioritized keeping up my connections with potential employers when I was in school. And it worked: when I graduated, there was an option on the table for me. So stay in touch with people and go to events and portfolio reviews. It keeps you top of mind and shows people that you're interested.

— Charmaine Cheng Prov. RGD, Art Director & Designer at Rethink in Vancouver

Don't give out estimates before finding out all the details.

When someone emails me and asks for a quote, I always tell them that every project is different and I ask for a discovery meeting. I need to find out what they're looking for before I can give a ballpark.

— Tanya Duffy, Creative Director / Owner at The Details Design and Branding in Fredericton

Freelance trades stability for flexibility, and that can be a good thing.

What you give up in stability, you can gain in flexibility. I think that's a goal for a lot of people who like to do solo or freelance work. As long as it's sustainable and you're making money, then that flexibility can help you with work-life balance.

— Jordan Jackson Prov. RGD, Designer at Puncture Design in Toronto

You're likely to make more if you start your estimates high.

If you charge high, you have room to negotiate with the potential client and maybe move your price down. If you start your estimate low, you aren't really able to move your prices up. So I always give a high estimate and I let them know that we can discuss it.

— Dzung Tran RGD, Designer + Branding Consultant in Toronto

Always, always be nice.

I've listened to a lot of fantastic speakers and it's amazing how so many of them say that they've gotten to where they are partially by luck, but mainly by building bridges and being nice. It's true. No one wants to work with someone difficult.

— Julian Brown RGD, Owner, Creative Director of ON THE CHASE! Motion Design in Toronto


Julian Brown RGD

ON THE CHASE! Motion Design

Julian Brown is ON THE CHASE! Julian creates ‘motion-first’ brands and content for smart clients (Sport Chek, University of Toronto, Cineplex, World Wildlife Fund). His motion design & branding projects have been awarded by Graphis, The Webbys, Adobe and many more. Julian is a speaker on motion design, running a solo studio, and, sometimes, telling people why their offices f*cking suck. He serves as a VP on the Board of Directors for RGD, Canada’s largest design association. Julian is a York/Sheridan Toronto alumni, a world traveller, and this one time he starred alongside his dog in a TV ad for pet food. It was adorable.


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